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Roddy MacLeod describes how EEVL is putting RSS to work.

EEVL is the Hub for engineering, mathematics and computing. It is an award-winning free service, which provides quick and reliable access to the best engineering, mathematics, and computing information available on the Internet. It is created and run by a team of information specialists from a number of universities and institutions in the UK, lead by Heriot Watt University. EEVL helps students, staff and researchers in higher and further education, as well as anyone else working, studying or looking for information in Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. It is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through the Resource Discovery Network (RDN).


Before, (quite naturally), you ask, RSS can stand for ‘Rich Site Summary’, ‘RDF Site Summary’ or ‘Really Simple Syndication’ depending on who you are talking to and which RSS version they are speaking about.

EEVL recently published an RSS Primer for Publishers and Content Providers. RSS is an excellent and cost-effective way of driving traffic to, and increasing brand awareness of, any Web site that publishes content such as news, jobs, products, or events, on a regular basis. An RSS file enables other sites to syndicate the content, and thereby reach new audiences.

RSS is now considered to be the dominant format for distributing headline content on the Web, and allows easy sharing of data between sites. In addition, RSS content can be viewed by personal desktop news reading applications such as AmphetaDesk. RSS feeds can also be read through a Web browser via services such as Bloglines.

EEVL’s Primer is aimed at publishers and content providers, with the intention of introducing and explaining the concepts behind RSS and addressing some commonly expressed concerns. It is primarily intended for a non-technical audience who require an overview of RSS to make decisions regarding the possible use of the technology. However, the guidelines also provide recommendations for good practice, case studies on RSS production and links to tools and specifications which provide useful starting points for those tasked with actually producing RSS feeds.

The Primer is available at http://www.eevl.ac.uk/rss_primer/ and also as a Word document: http://www.eevl.ac.uk/rss_primer/rss_primer.doc. It was written by Malcolm Moffat, the EEVL Development Officer, and produced through work undertaken as part of a JISC-funded Publishers and Library/Learning Solutions (PALS) Metadata & Interoperability project. Details about the project are available from the EEVL Projects Web site. The Primer is already proving to be very popular and has been regarded as an easy-to-understand guide to RSS.

Syndicated News and EEVL

One purpose of the RSS Primer mentioned above is to encourage publishers and content providers to make their content available via RSS so that it can be syndicated by other sites. Putting this into practice, EEVL has teamed up with several leading trade information publishers (Pro-Talk Ltd, Jobsite and Centaur Communications Ltd.) to syndicate a number of RSS feeds and thereby provide improved access to industry news and job announcement news.

This is the first part of a three-stage process to improve radically access to the latest information and news in the subjects covered by the EEVL service (i.e. engineering, mathematics and computing). Further developments, which will be announced in due course, will aggregate these feeds, and this will make scanning and accessing information from a variety of sources far easier. Stage three will see the feeds added to other, personalisable services made available as a result of the Subject Portal Project (SPP).

The new syndicated services, all of which can be accessed via the EEVL site, include:

Industry news:

Latest News from e4engineering.com http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_e4engineering.htm
More information about E4Engineering is available from the EEVL record.

Latest News from Engineeringtalk http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_engineeringtalk.htm
More information about Engineeringtalk is available from the EEVL record.

Latest News from Processingtalk http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_processingtalk.htm
More information about Processingtalk is available from the EEVL record.

Latest News from Buildingtalk http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_buildingtalk.htm
More information about Buildingtalk is available is available from the EEVL record.

Latest News from Electronicstalk http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_electronicstalk.htm
More information about Electronicstalk is available from the EEVL record.

Latest News from Manufacturingtalk http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_manufacturingtalk.htm
More information about Manufacturingtalk is available from the EEVL record.

Latest News from Subcontractingtalk http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/newsfeed_subcontractingtalk.htm
More information about Subcontractingtalk is available from the EEVL record.

Job Announcements:

Latest Engineering Jobs from Jobsite http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/eng-jobs-jobsite-engineering.htm
More information about Jobsite is available from the EEVL record.

Latest Engineering Jobs from The Engineer http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/eng-jobs-theengineer.htm
More information about The Engineer Jobs is available from the EEVL record.

Latest IT Jobs from Jobsite http://www.eevl.ac.uk/computing/comp-jobs-jobsite-computing.htm
More information about Jobsite is available from the EEVL record.

Latest Electronics Jobs from Jobsite http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/eng-jobs-jobsite-electronics.htm
More information about Jobsite is available from the EEVL record.

Latest Manufacturing Jobs from Jobsite http://www.eevl.ac.uk/engineering/eng-jobs-jobsite-manufacturing.htm
More information about Jobsite is available from the EEVL record.

Each of these RSS feeds contains the most recent fifteen items released by the publisher in question. An item can consist of a news headline and brief details, or in the case of job announcements, details of the latest vacancies added to the publisher’s site. In all cases, links take you to the actual publisher’s site where full details are available.

Typical examples of items from the RSS feeds are shown below. The first item is from Latest News from e4engineering.com and the second is from Latest IT Jobs from Jobsite.

Nanotubes used to reinforce ceramics
Materials scientists have created a ceramic material reinforced with carbon nanotubes that is tougher than conventional ceramics, conducts electricity and acts as a heat exchanger.

Oracle Developer/Reports Writer (£Neg, London,South West London)
Oracle Software House require an Oracle Developer/Report Writer for contract. You must have reports 6i/Oracle RDMS 8i experience. Any experience designing and building Datamart solutions would be an advantage.

It is important to note that the RSS feeds give details about only the latest job vacancies. Many more vacancies are listed at the host Web sites.

In addition, a new version of the Science Next Wave Career Development News RSS feed is now available.

The news feeds are available from the EEVL News section, where they have been added, under appropriate subject headings, to other links to sites which give the latest news, and the job announcements are available from the Jobs & Recruitment hot links: (Engineering, Mathematics and Computing Jobs and Recruitment and Engineering Jobs & Recruitment.). This allows those visiting the EEVL News and Jobs & Recruitment hot links to scan announcements from a number of relevant sites. In the case of the Jobs & Recruitment hot links page, relevant records of recruitment agency sites from the EEVL Catalogue are listed below the RSS feed links. In this way, EEVL is beginning to ‘mesh’ together relevant subject information in various formats from various sources. Future work at EEVL will hope to mesh together other types of information, with the intention of further facilitating access to subject-based materials.

Our hope is that more publishers will join Pro-Talk Ltd, Jobsite, Centaur Communications Ltd and Science Next Wave in producing RSS feeds of their industry news, job announcements, press releases, events news, or tenders and contract news. We can then syndicate them at the EEVL site. This will help to facilitate access to these important sources of information and drive traffic to the publishers’ own Web sites. Anyone with an interest in providing such information is invited to contact me.

Author Details

Roddy MacLeod
EEVL Manager
Heriot-Watt University Library
EH14 4AS

E-mail: R.A.MacLeod@hw.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/libram/roddy.html

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Article Title: “RSS and EEVL: Syndicating industry news and job announcements”
Author: Roddy MacLeod
Publication Date: 30-October-2003
Publication: Ariadne Issue 37
Originating URL: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue37/eevl/